New ebook available @ Project Gutenberg: Calvary, by Octave Mirbeau

CalvaryCalvary by Octave Mirbeau

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The English version can be found at Project Gutenberg

The original file was provided by Internet Archive.


(From the original French “Le Calvaire”)


Produced by Dagny, Laura Natal and Marc D’Hooghe at (Images generously made
available by the Internet Archive.)

Le Calvaire is a thinly veiled autobiographical novel, which recounts the tortured and traumatic coming of age of the narrator Jean Mintie. It paints a nightmarish picture of late nineteenth century French society: from the stultifying boredom of bourgeois provincialism, to the horrors of the Franco-Prussian war, the grotesque avarice of shameless women and the moral bankruptcy of their compliant victims. Mintie’s progress through life is a descent into Hell, a plumbing of the lower depths, the martyrdom of a godless man in a godless age. The publication of Le Calvaire in 1886 marked a brilliant beginning for the Angry Young Man of the Age, who went on to flay the Establishment in Torture Garden and The Diary of a Chambermaid.

The French version is available at Project Gutenberg.

Opening lines:
I was born one evening in October at Saint-Michel-les-Hêtres, a small town in the department of Orne, and I was immediately christened by the name of Jean-François-Marie-Mintié. To celebrate in a fitting manner my coming into this world, my godfather, who was my uncle, distributed a lot of dainties, threw many coppers and other small coins to a crowd of country boys gathered on the church steps. One of them, while struggling with his comrades, fell so awkwardly on the sharp edge of a stone that he broke his neck and died the following day. As for my uncle, when he returned home he contracted typhoid fever and passed away a few weeks later. My governess, old Marie, often related these incidents to me with pride and admiration.


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